Androgen ablation has been an effective treatment in patients with advanced prostate cancer. However, most treated patients develop hormonally resistant disease and do not respond to conventional chemotherapy. Immunotherapy against prostate cancer is an alternative approach in overcoming hormonal/drug-resistant prostate cancer. Cytotoxic immune lymphocytes kill target cells via the perforin/granzyme and the Fas-ligand (Fas-L) pathways. We hypothesize that tumor cells respond poorly to immunotherapy by developing resistance to killing by the Fas-L mechanism. This study investigated whether prostate tumor cells are sensitive to Fas-mediated killing. The human prostate carcinoma cell lines DU145, PC-3, and LnCAP were examined for their sensitivity to killing and apoptosis by the Fas-L agonist anti-Fas antibody and CTLs. All three lines moderately expressed the Fas antigen on the cell surface; however, all three lines were relatively resistant to cytotoxicity mediated by anti-Fas (CH-11) antibody. Pretreatment of DU145 and PC-3 with subtoxic concentrations of drugs followed by anti-Fas antibody resulted in synergistic cytotoxicity and apoptosis, whereas only an additive effect was obtained with LnCAP. Chemosensitization with drugs and anti-Fas was completely blocked by the addition of neutralizing anti-Fas antibody. The murine CTL hybridoma, PMMI, which kills only via the Fas-L pathway, was able to kill chemosensitized PC-3 and DU145 but not LnCAP cells. Furthermore, this cytotoxicity was blocked by anti-Fas neutralizing antibody. Chemosensitization of PC-3 and DU145 prostate tumor cells was not due to up-regulation of Fas-receptor antigen expression. Treatment of tumor cells with cisplatin did not down-regulate the antiapoptotic genes bcl-2, FAP-1, and c-myc. Further, there was no induction by cisplatin of Fas-L on the tumor cells, thus ruling out Fas/Fas-L-mediated autologous killing. These findings demonstrate that pretreatment of drug-resistant/CTL-resistant prostate DU145 and PC-3 tumor cells with subtoxic concentrations of certain chemotherapeutic drugs sensitizes the tumor cells to Fas-mediated cytotoxicity. These findings suggest that chemosensitization of tumor cells should optimize the response to immunotherapeutic interventions in the treatment of hormone-resistant/drug-resistant prostate cancer.

This content is only available via PDF.